India reports first case of monkeypox

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FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative"
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Chris Thomas

MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) -India reported its first confirmed case of monkeypox on Thursday, a 35-year old man with a history of travel to the Middle East, government officials said.

The man, who travelled from the United Arab Emirates to the southern Indian state of Kerala on July 12, was in stable condition and had been isolated at a hospital, the state's health minister, Veena George told reporters late on Thursday.

"He is stable and all his vital signs are normal. We have asked all districts to be on alert," George said.

Monkeypox, endemic in parts of Africa, is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions. Around 60 countries in which monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the disease, with confirmed cases crossing 10,500.

George said the patient's parents and other primary contacts have also been isolated while 11 passengers who came in contact with him on his flight and some others have been told to watch for symptoms.

The federal government said in a release that it was sending a high-level team to the state to work with local authorities and recommend necessary public health measures.

Earlier on Thursday, it asked states to step up testing and surveillance for possible monkeypox infections.

"As COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges, it is vital we remain aware and alert about other public health threats and proactively prepare ourselves to tackle them," federal health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states.

(Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru and Shilpa Jamkhandikar in MumbaiEditing by Anil D'Silva and Frances Kerry)

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